Local LGBTQ activists to hold vigil for Club Q victims as fears worsen over safety
To honor the victims of the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, local LGBTQ activists plan to hold a peaceful candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22 on public sidewalk spaces
FARGO —Local activists believe prejudice against the LGBTQ community has worsened in recent years, and fear more violence will follow after this past weekend's shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, five people were shot to death and more than two dozen others injured just before an all-ages drag show at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
The gunman, named by police as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, was taken into custody after club patrons pinned him to the ground on the National Transgender Day of Remembrance, according to national media outlets.
To honor the victims at Club Q, local LGBTQ activists plan to hold a peaceful candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22 on public sidewalk spaces around Broadway Square in downtown Fargo.
Mars Ness-Ludwig, an event organizer, said the event coincides with a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, so they decided to move the event to the four street corners and hold candles in a vigil on public property.
When she heard about the Colorado Springs shooting, she said she was “very, very angry and very very sad."
“Anti-trans rhetoric has been increasing weekly in this country, and we’ve seen so many politicians take a stand against trans people," Ness-Ludwig said. "It is so sad on the National Transgender Day of Remembrance five people were killed, and for all intents and purposes they should be safe."
Although the vigil is taking place hundreds of miles away from Colorado, Ness-Ludwig said the queer and trans community stand in solidarity and won't be swept under the rug.
"“It breaks my heart that at a haven where trans and queer people are supposed to find safety and community, they were killed," she said.
Rynn Willgohs, another event organizer, said she has been stalked and threatened locally because she is a well-known activist that successfully changed her gender marker and name in North Dakota.
Shooters who target the LGBTQ community, like the 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people, are sometimes hailed as heroes, Willgohs said.
Prejudice against LGBTQ communities is getting worse, Willgohs said. “It’s worse, it’s way worse, ever since Roe v. Wade dropped, it’s way worse. People are getting more emboldened to be more hateful,” Willgohs said.
The suspected shooter in Colorado Springs will be labeled a hero and thus embolden more people, Willgohs said. “And there really is no place to go for help. We don’t have safety with our government, and there are not enough allies to stand up and say this is wrong,” she said.
Willgohs said she is always careful and watching for a possible attacker when she is out. Fargo is decent compared to the rest of the state, she said, but won't go outside city limits.
“We’re becoming targets. I have to worry about a random person coming up and attacking me, and I refuse to live that way," Willgohs said.
The candlelight vigil precedes a drag show called Thick Thighs and Pumpkin Pies, which is planned for Saturday, Nov. 26 at the Fargo VFW Club. The show is for those 21 and older, and is being hosted by FM Drag United.
Stonewall Fargo, the local chapter of a national LGBTQ and ally nonprofit organization, said the club is “heartbroken by the attack on our queer family in Colorado Springs."
“We send our support to those who are healing and love to those mourning the loss of special lives. We deserve to be our authentic selves in every place in society, but especially in safe spaces, like Club Q,” said Scottie Knollin, Stonewall Fargo spokesperson.
Knollin said the club has encouraged its players and allies to support each other and continue to be actionable in Fargo in setting the standard for what an inclusive and loving community can be.
The Anti-Defamation League on Monday, Nov. 21, issued a statement related to the Colorado Springs shooting, and called on the White House to meet with LGBTQ leaders and to accelerate promises to fight against hate, terrorism and violence.
“The tragedy in Colorado Springs looks to be the latest in a long line of extremist attacks targeting marginalized communities," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the ADL reported in a press release.